Tom Kane's Blog

A word can change a mind. A sentence can change a life. A book can change the world

image Petra Tou Romiou

Buying a property has its ups and downs. Buying a property in Cyprus tends to have a little sideways motion to it as well, things that need doing by a certain time can slide a little, especially in the summer. Put it this way, it’s not easy. But then, having something good in your life is bound to be hard to get right and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So we purchased this cosy and quiet apartment in Kouklia and then we decided it would be a good idea to rent it out to holidaymakers or golfers as there are two fabulous golf courses right next door. It’s the renting out part that has proved the trickiest thing to get right.

Registering with one of the best booking sites in the world was easy, but setting up the apartment’s location has been a mini-nightmare. The people at the unnamed Booking site keep insisting our apartment is in Paphos City. Apart from the fact Paphos is never referred to as Paphos City, Kouklia is miles away as you can see below.

image of Paphos and Kouklia on a map

As you can see, Paphos is a large town on the left and Kouklia is on the right, quite a few kilometres away. I wouldn’t mind, but this is their map, generated by them. So why shove Kouklia in the middle of Paphos in the description they have put to our listing?

However, no sooner was our listing live than we took a booking. That’s two bookings now and quite a few inquiries. Not bad for beginners.

But it’s driven us a little crazy trying to get this right, so we decided to go away ourselves for a few days, to take a step back and at the same time test drive our apartment. We drove down Wednesday afternoon and came back Friday afternoon. Naturally, we had to try the local eateries and low and behold, Thursday night is Cypriot night with music and dancing in the streets around Kouklia’s main square, the centre of the village. It’s also a massive buffet night at the Efraim Taverna. This is held every Thursday night and is advertised as a five star traditional buffet. The dancing was great, the music was great and the atmosphere was fabulous. We booked a table on Thursday lunchtime and were glad we did. The placed was packed. The staff were super efficient, very friendly and nothing was too much trouble. The food was so good, I actually ate more than I have ever done so at any buffet in my entire life.

image Efraim staff

The dancing was great to watch, but I’m so glad I sat at the back with my two left feet… audience participation is a must.

image Cyprus Night

Cyprus Night © Nick Wild Photography

All in all it was very much a night to remember and the price was so low for such good food and entertainment, we may find ourselves back there next week… sitting at the back with my two left feet.

Copyright © Kouklia Coastal Resort 2019

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat apartment

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image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

Buying a holiday apartment turned out to be a lot less complicated than I expected. Having said that, we don’t get all the legal documentation or another four months… and nobody seems to know the reason why. I suspect it’s because the next two months have a U in them and the following two months have an ER in them. I can see the land registry people now, “U want what? Er?”

Well, that may be a little harsh but that’s the way things sometimes seem to work here.

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

That aside we’ve got a key, it opens the door and the apartment is fully stocked with everything we need.

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

We’ve been out and bought a few extras like ceiling fans, a foot stool, a small bin, a few throws for the settee, an outside key safe and a smoke detector. But apart from that it doesn’t need anything.

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

We’ve even got our first booking for a couple in October for three nights to play golf at Secret Valley in a tournament.

image of a golfer

Lady plays golf at Secret Valley Golf Course

The website’s still under construction and the listing on Booking.com is awaiting final approval, but so far so good, all seems to be well and everything is moving smoothly.

I know, don’t count your chickens…

Copyright © Koukla Coastal Retreat 2019

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat apartment

Visit our website for more information. Click here to view our website or to check for vacancies click here.

 

image garden pots

Once upon a time you could set your watch by the seasons. You knew that there would always be a Spring, Summer, Autumn and a Winter. These days the seasons seem to have merged and moved around. Our spring in Cyprus was basically so wet you could have floated a boat in our garden. Spring seems to be a bit of a changeling these days, almost schizophrenic in some ways. It’s not sure if it wants to give us warm weather or drown us. There is almost a feel of an extra season creeping into the yearly seasonal calendar.

But the summer has turned out to be glorious, and extremely hot. It’s great for tourists and those expats like us who love the sunshine. However, plants have a different perspective and as is usual this time of year the lovely greenery from the spring is now dead and brown.

I’ve still got a lot of great flowers in my garden, but despite the constant watering a lot are dying off. That’s life in a hot climate.

We recently bought a small apartment in Kouklia, near Paphos, which is close to Secret Valley golf course and the weather there is slightly different to that which we experience in Larnaca, where we live. You can tell as soon as you arrive at Petra Tou Romiou as there is a little more coolness to the breeze.

image Petra Tou Romiou

Which is of little consequence because once you hit the beaches it’s time to slap on the factor fifty and try not to bake. If you’re holidaying in Cyprus, enjoy.

Copyright © Kouklia Coastal Retreat 2019

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

Kouklia Coastal Retreat Website

 

image Soviet Missiles

I wrote a piece for my blog a month or so ago about the odd things you can see in the Cyprus sky. You can read Starry, Starry Night by clicking here.

Things That Go Bang In The Night

Of course some of the things we get in the night sky are perfectly easy to explain, like the object that landed at 1am our time yesterday. I say landed, maybe I should say hit the ground after blowing up in the air and the debris taking a lot of a hillside with it. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the Russian made anti-aircraft missile that hit the ground in Northern Cyprus, not 12 miles from our capital, Nicosia, in the early hours of Monday, July 1st 2019.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

The missile is a surface-to-air missile, used to shoot down attacking aircraft. It’s designed for long range flight, but not to unprotected little islands in the eastern Mediterranean. It was designed to shoot down attacking aircraft, but this particular missile presumably lost its way and managed to set fire to a hillside in the illegally held Turkish north of the island.

The S-200 missile, produced during the Soviet era in Russia, is said to have been part of the Russian installed Syrian air-defense. It was presumably launched from Syria during an air strike in Syria by Israel. The missile has a range of 300km which is about 20-30 minutes flying time from us on a good night if you’re rocket propelled.

So, the Syrian air-defenses are alerted to an air strike by Israel, be it automated or launched by a person, one would assume the missile is capable of locking onto a target before it’s fired… or maybe not. In military jargon these missiles use radio illumination mid-course correction to fly towards the target with a terminal semi-active radar homing phase. The maximum target speed is around Mach 6. It’s a long-range missile system that was developed in the 1950s by the Soviet Union to replace another, failed system, that didn’t live up to scratch. I would respectively suggest that this system is also a failure since it’s intended target was not an island in a sea, but an aircraft in the air. You’re not telling me that this missile was fired at an Israeli Air Force fighter bomber, but mistakenly hit an island instead.

I must admit I’m amazed something like this, or worse, hasn’t happened in Cyprus before. We are currently seemingly surrounded by warships. Never mind the current civil war in neighbouring Syria, Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is causing major ructions between supposed allies.

Turkey has illegally occupied the north of Cyprus since invading in 1974. Now that gas and oil have been discovered in Cypriot waters, which Cyprus wants to make use of commercially, Turkey has declared that it too wants a piece of the action. Strict warnings made by Washington, Brussels, Paris, London and Rome are being ignored and Turkey is taking a provocative stance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey, America, Britain and Italy are allies in NATO, but when it comes to natural resources, the gloves are off.

An incident in February between the captain of an Italian drilling ship and the captain of a Turkish warship that blocked its route to plot 3 in the Cypriot waters has upped the stakes in the area and more warships have arrived in the area since then.

After the shooting down of a civilian flight over Ukraine in recent times, the possibility of an accident occurring in Cyprus has been on the cards for some time with the war in Syria and now the stand-off between Turkish warships. In May this year Turkey sent a drill-ship to waters inside the Cyprus EEZ, about 60km west of Paphos. In response arrest warrants have been issued by the Republic of Cyprus against the crew of the Turkish drill-ship.

This is indicative of how things will go worldwide as natural resources run low and countries begin drilling in areas that are internationally contested.

How long will it be before another accident actually claims innocent lives.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

Living in Cyprus was never going to be easy, but after 11 years here I’m just beginning to get the hang of it. You can read a free sample about my journey here.

 

image writing plan

I’m writing a science fiction short called The Dog Walker and as an intro I have my dog walker, a robot named RB43, retrieve a small dog lead from a cupboard where the dog’s food and stuff are all kept.

As the story progresses we are introduced to two characters, RB43 and Prince, a golden retriever. The story initially examines the Robot-Pet relationship. Robot-Human interaction comes later.

But, anyone who knows their dogs will realise a golden retriever is a big dog, even as a puppy, which Prince isn’t. And there we have a situation that many writers either ignore or simply fail to realise is a potential problem- continuity.

Continuity is a big thing in TV and film production. The continuity supervisor in a film crew oversees the continuity of the film and that includes, hair, wardrobe, props, sets and the actions of the characters through scenes. But it seems to have taken a back seat these days in the minds of many authors. I am no doubt guilty of failing to realise I’ve made a mistake as I was about to in this story. RB43 retrieved a small dog lead from a cupboard. A small lead for a big dog?

It may seem like a very insignificant error and it is, but the point I’m trying to make is that unless you are aware of continuity issues you may find your readers suddenly laughing at a critical and serious part of your book. I did when a book I’m reading had a character pick up a gate post and hit his opponent with a… a pick-axe handle? What? At the very least, a small mistake in continuity can lead to a pause in reading that gets the reader confused. Once you’ve lost your reader, it may be hard to get them back.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

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image Harvey

Our dog Harvey passed away on Tuesday 18th June 2019 after several illnesses. He soldiered through all that was put in his way and was of good humour right to the very end. Here’s the beginning of a series of stories I’ve written over the years all about Harvey’s adventures and mishaps.

Harvey was always a strong dog, even for an English Springer Spaniel. In his time, he’s pulled me over twice, both times I landed on my knees which are still sore to this day when I kneel down. If you didn’t pay attention to Harvey, especially when he was on the lead, he would be off chasing something or, more usually, nothing. Harvey was a force of nature and a free spirit. His one big failing was his inability to realise he was being led astray by the real master of the household, Holly. Holly, another springer, is all calm and quiet on the outside. But inside, she is devious and always plotting to lead Harvey into mischief. We called Harvey and Holly the ‘H’ Team, for obvious reasons. He was a black and white springer and she a liver and white.

Before we moved from the UK to Cyprus, I worked from home and my wife worked in town. It was a good working relationship because I was able to let the ‘H’ Team out to roam our large garden, knowing they would get up to no mischief. That was what I believed, but on one spring day Holly had other ideas.

I had let the dogs out in the morning with no problems. In the afternoon, at around three, I let them out and went back to my work. Ten minutes later I went to check on them. They were nowhere to be seen. That was lesson one, never leave the ‘H’ Team to their own devices, always be on the lookout for trouble. I went into the garden and looked up and down. The garden was wide with trees and bushes either side as a natural barrier to our neighbour’s gardens. It was eighty feet long and again, large trees and bushes at the bottom. Plenty of places for them to hide, but I couldn’t see them anywhere. As I turned to walk back up to our conservatory there was Holly, sitting near the back door. She was as innocent as innocent could be. I could almost see the shining halo. I knew something was up.

“Hello! Hello, Tom.” It was our neighbour, Mrs. Ford. She was in her early eighties and self-appointed neighbourhood watch. “Tom, Harvey is in my garden.” Facing our back door, Mrs. Ford was our neighbour to the left. I carried on walking to the back door and I looked at Holly who turned her head away as if to say, ‘Not my problem. Nothing to do with me.’

“Tom, if you can pass me Harvey’s lead, I’ll bring him round to the front for you.”

“Okay,” I shouted and quickly went inside to find the lead. “I’ll deal with you later,” I muttered to Holly as I walked past her. I could swear she sniffed her derision toward me.

I came back out, Harvey’s lead in hand, and I managed to pass it through the thick hedgerow to Mrs. Ford. “I have no idea where they got through,” I said, giving Holly a quick glance.

“Never mind,” Mrs. Ford said. “No harm done.” She took the lead and waved for me to go around the front.

I walked to the back door and Holly was still doing her saintly best to look all sweetness and light. In the kitchen I whistled a happy little tune as I opened the hallway door and that was when it hit me. I stopped dead in my tracks. “Oh, no! No, no, no!” I shouted as I raced to the front door. I had just put a force so destructive it can pull a 6’ 2” 20 stone man over, into the hands of Mrs. Ford, a dumpy little eighty-year-old lady. “Noooooo!”

Our front door flew open and there before me was a panoramic view of the lawns in front of our two houses. Both beautifully mown and green as green could be. There was the black footpath just before the small road where a car was screeching to a halt. All before me was in slow motion and Harvey was in full flight after a cabbage-white butterfly. Mrs. Ford, holding onto Harvey’s lead with gritted teeth and astonished eyes was also in full flight. Mrs. Ford didn’t quite match the duration of the first flight of the Wright brothers, but she must have been in-flight with no bodily part touching the ground for a good three seconds. And then she hit the grass and real-time resumed. The man was out of his car, I was chasing Harvey and trying to help Mrs. Ford, but the doughty Mrs. Ford was up on her feet. “I’m fine, don’t fuss. I’m fine,” she announced to all the world. Her spectacles were skew-whiff across her face and she had green marks on her face, hands and knees. But her undercarriage was still intact, and she was fiercely brushing herself down as she thrust Harvey’s lead into my hand and stomped off to her front door.

Harvey? He was sat watching what was going on, the butterfly forgotten.

Later that afternoon my wife came home, and I told her what had happened. She immediately went around to see if Mrs. Ford was okay. Mrs. Ford’s spectacles were held together with sticking plaster, but she was none the worse for her flying lesson. When my wife came back, I suggested we might charge Mrs. Ford for the flying lesson, in way of a little light relief. Humour always lifts the human spirit. But not in this case and the story still warrants a frown in my direction when I re-tell it… which isn’t often.

image of a bee

Fruit is something we mostly take for granted, be it an apple a day or the grapes of wrath, we tend to eat fruit (or not) and not think too much about it. But with the world’s bee population being decimated on a vast scale, your daily intake of fruit may become a weekly thing, or even monthly, maybe even a once in a while treat. Think I’m being alarmist? Even in my small patch of ground in Cyprus I’m finding dead or dying bees on a regular basis. A United Nations press release in May 2019 stated that more than three quarters of the leading types of global food crops rely to some extent on bees and other pollinators.

image of American Blueberries

American Blueberries

I grow a lot of fruit for a small garden. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, grapes, blueberries, tomatoes and even melons.

image of Melon - Rugoso di Cosenza Giatto

Melon – Rugoso di Cosenza Giatto

Whatever it is I decide to grow, even though they are grown in tubs, seems to do well. I’m always amazed when I sow new seeds and something grows. Not least of which was my amazement at the melons I have growing.

So I pay particular attention to nature and try to invite as many insects into my garden as possible with the right types of flowers and environment. Because one day I may sow some seeds and nothing will grow. If that day ever comes, god help humanity because without pollination, people will starve.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

Living in Cyprus has been great for me. You can read about what it’s like with my series of books.

Living in Cyprus: 2015 is free

 

 

 

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat

I can understand why buying property is stressful. Add into that mix Harvey’s illness and sad death and, well, I could go on bemoaning the harshness of life but, I’m not. Life is way too short to spend time moaning about its inequalities. Life is what it is, so get on with it and enjoy it as much as you can.

So, here’s the good news, the contracts to the Cyprus apartment have now been signed and all we have to do is wait for the legal stuff to go through, taxes to be paid, bankers draft for final payment and voila! J’ai les clés et c’est la fête – I have the keys and it’s party time. What could go wrong? Plenty, but we will ignore that for now, remember, life is too short.

I have a website almost completed, which you can see here. And though the law on tourist rental is changing, there seems to be a period of three years where you can get your act together and be tourism compliant, so that’s pretty cool. But then comes the hard part, the marketing.

Software integration between sites like TripAdvisor and AirBnB is easy enough. Arranging cleaning after visits will not be too hard and there are maintenance companies specialising in all many of services.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

If you want to experience Cyprus life then check out our holiday apartment in Kouklia, just outside of Paphos.

image Kouklia Coastal Retreat apartment

Check for vacancies

Or visit our website for more information.

Living in Cyprus can be an interesting and sometimes frustrating experience for an English expat. I’ve been here 11 years, but the first few years were anything but normal. Read all about my introduction to living in Cyprus.

 

image book cover

First draft my 3rd work in progress

Ascension: Brave New Earth

One

 

Brett awoke to the sound of panicky, whispered and frightened voices.

“Wake your father up. Quickly.”

He felt the nudge on his shoulder and fearful voice close to his ear. “Dad! Dad!” Another nudge, more forceful and then a loud cracking sound brought him to full alert, his military instincts kicking in. He was up, blaster drawn and searching for danger.

“What?” He hissed.

“It’s the walls, something’s drilling holes in the walls. Our air is escaping into the atmosphere.”

In the dark, half-light, of the terra-forming habitat module’s night mode setting, he met his daughter’s eyes, fear was there, but tempered with steel. Hard resolve. She was only twenty but he had trained her well.

“Over here as well,” his son was calling out to him. “All along the seams… it seems. Forgive the pun,” he said, smiling ruefully.

Another good soldier in the making, Brett thought.

“Be quite! Whisper it for heaven’s sake.”

The unmistakable fear in that voice, the trembling and weakness told Brett it was his wife.

Coming to this alien world was all your idea, and now you are fearful of what your actions may cost you. Pitiful.

Brett’s thoughts were his own, but it didn’t matter, everyone knew he had nothing but contempt for the leader of this expedition.

My wife!

He let out an involuntary snort of derision and his wife’s fearful stare caught his steady gaze.

Yes, I’ll get you out of this… again, Maggs.

Brett checked the outer-hull vid-feed and at first saw nothing. His son, now standing to his left saw it first.

“Who the hell is that?”

Brett followed Ryan’s gaze to the top left quadrant of the big display and saw it too. A figure in black combat gear, obviously designed for hostile environments, seemingly made of a hazy, shiny material he didn’t recognize. “What the hell…”

“That’s personal shielding, isn’t it, dad?” Michelle, Mitch to her friends and family, seemed in awe… and rightly so.

“Yeah,” Brett said slowly. “Looks like… but, tha…”

“That’s impossible, isn’t it, dad?” Ryan’s voiced had an urgency to it, Brett recognized. He realised, as Brett did, this was not human technology they were witnessing. This figure was… alien.

“Do something. Do something!”

Father, daughter and son all turned as one to look at Maggs. Her hands covered her mouth realising she had nearly screamed in hysterics at the situation. A situation no human had ever encountered before. Not only seemingly alien contact, but hostile alien contact. From the vid-feed it was obvious the alien figure was tampering with the habitat’s protective hull, allowing their precious air to bleed out into the alien atmosphere. This alien’s idea of first contact was not as humanity had hoped since man moved out to the stars, expecting this first contact at every new planet they found. Now, that moment had come and it had arrived on the Madison family’s watch and it was to be a deadly affair.

“Switch the view to the entire camp, Mitch,” Brett said, ignoring his wife’s pleading eyes and turning back to the vid-feed.

“Yes dad,” Mitch said, matter-of-factly. She looked down at the feed’s display and pressed twice on the holo-display. She heard the gasp from behind and looked up, her face turning from impassive to outright fear. “Two hab’s collapsed and the place is swarming with them. Dad?”

All eyes were on Brett. Though the mission commander was his wife, he knew this was his baby now. His mission speciality was maintaining the habs on this alien world, but also as security for the base. None of Earth’s terraforming missions had ever needed security before, until now.

“First time for everything,” Brett muttered. ”Two habs down and we must assume the people in there are dead.” Brett looked at Mitch, knew she was thinking of Ben James in hab two, but not showing it. She would find time enough to grieve later, if he could find a way through this.

Good girl.

“Okay, we need a…” Another sharp crack behind them made them all whirl round. The loud squeal of escaping air brought reality back to the group. “Suit up. Now! Ryan.”

“Yes, dad?”

“Essential survival supplies. We have minutes left before a collapse of the habitat.”

“I’m on supplies,” Mitch shouted.

Brett looked at his wife. She nodded, sobbing, and began gathering essential medical supplies. Brett took stock and then suited up himself. They would have no chance getting to the Rovers, he noted, looking at the outer hull vid-feed. The black combat-suited aliens meant business and intended no-one to survive this encounter.

Okay, my alien friends. All bets off. This is war.

Brett busied himself gathering comms gear and weapons and at the same time formulated a plan of escape.

“Comms check,” Brett said as he sealed his helmet in place. “Brett, okay.”

“Ryan, okay.”

“Check,” Mitch said.

“Okay,” Maggs’ voice sobbed, loud and clear, over the comms.

“Okay, luckily we are still on the private channel from yesterday. They can’t hear us, but equally no-one else can hear us… if there is anyone else left. Line astern, behind me and do as I do. Follow the training, we have practiced this…”

“A lot.”

They all recognised the amusement, despite the situation, in Ryan’s voice.

“Then no excuses. You all know the drill. Rear escape port. Follow me.”

Survival habitats are essentially a ball cut in half. The half-circle sat on top of soil, a ten metre circumference, each inner segment was divided into quarters and colour coded. Red for rear escape section in case of air-loss and imminent collapse. It made it easier for the human mind to understand their environment and react immediately in times of crisis.

Brett turned and watched his family line up behind him through the helmet’s HUD (Heads Up Display) and quickly moved to the rear. He pressed the emergency decompression button and waited for the air to cycle out of the hab. Collapse had been averted, just in time, but now they had to avoid being seen by the aliens roaming the compound. That was going to be a lot harder. As he waited for the depressurisation cycle to complete, Brett noticed that the seal around the emergency exit was crumbling. Now he realised the aliens had introduced a fast working bio-agent into the very fabric of the hull. The bio-agent was eating the hull, very quickly.

At that moment here was a whoosh of mass escaping air has the bio-agent, coupled with the hab’s own attempt to remove the air conspired to cause the collapse of the crumbled hull. The hull simply vaporised in a colourless cloud of degraded plastic and carbon.

Brett and his family were exposed to the alien’s and there was nowhere to hide.

Two

It was never inevitable that humanity would reach for the stars. A more likely scenario for humanity was war between nations due to limited resources on Earth and this would lead to the destruction of humanity. Nuclear war followed by a nuclear winter followed by the demise of the human race was more than inevitable to most professional observers.

But that was not the way it turned out. Yes, war was inevitable and prolific due to limited resources, but then two remarkable discoveries made all the difference. Cold fusion that actually worked finally came into being in December 2033. But not before war had laid waste to the middle east as the oil finally ran out. It was a close run thing but it wasn’t long before the world changed. And with that change came the second industrial revolution and humanity finally had the chance to reach for the stars. The Holk-Lieber Drive became the mechanism that opened up the galaxy. Better know now as the Warp-Drive, German scientist Reinhard Holk and Britain’s Bill Liebersmith demonstrated the drives capabilities in the summer of 2041 and the first field test, a two-day trip to Jupiter was a sensation. Now, twenty years later, humanity was reaching the stars closest to our own solar system on a regular basis and discovering planets so Earth like it was breath-taking. Terraformers we sent out where there was the need to alter atmospheres. More controversially biological tinkering was performed and a few Brave New Earth scientists wanted to go the whole hog and attempt to change a planets geology and atmosphere where they could. Brave New Earth became a mantra to planetary scientists the world over and new and cutting edge technologies were developed to re-create planets in Earth’s likeness.

Ascension was chosen in the third phase and needed extensive atmospheric shaping to make it possible for humans to live there. Up until then, no evidence of any alien life beyond the microscopic had ever been found. And then it happened, when least expected and not looked for. Aliens who, it was assumed, considered Ascension their world, came calling on the Terraforming team of Dr. Maggs Camorra and they were not bearing gifts.

 

***

 

It was hours before dawn was due. When mankind first discovered Ascension, it was decided the planet was an ideal candidate for a terraforming program. But before that, in the very early days of exploring the planet, before an Earth-like atmosphere began replacing Ascension’s native atmosphere, those explorers were amazed at Ascension’s gloriously star filled night sky. A sky of such magnificence that those who were born and who died on Earth could never have imagined it.

They could also never have imagined the terror in the heart of Maggs Camorra as the hab unit she cowered in simply disappeared before her eyes and left her and her family exposed to alien soldiers, intent on killing every human on Ascension, maybe even all humanity. But for now, Maggs was simply terrified and her thoughts could go no further than her own, imminent, and dramatic demise at the hands of black suited aliens she had never even seen, face to face. She handled the situation by forming her body into as tight a ball as possible, head between her knees, rocking on her feet and whimpering. Her husband and children were made of stronger stuff and were instantly ready for combat. But none was offered, the camp area was deserted.

“It disintegrated,” Mitch whispered, as she tentatively stood. Her suits passive scans showed no sign of life except for her family. “They’ve gone. Job done. No need to hang around, nobody would survive this environment without a hab unit.” Mitch turned full circle and wondered what the aliens had used on the hab units to destroy them so quickly and so utterly.

“Some sort of bio agent,” her father said, as if he had read his daughter’s mind.

“I’ll check the other habs,” Ryan said.

Mitch turned to her brother. “Be careful, we don’t know if they have left for good. There may be booby traps.”

Inside his suit helmet, Ryan smiled at his sister’s concern. “I’ll be careful, little sister.” Ryan could almost see the crinkled nose his sister was making after his comment. You’re so predictable, sis. But I love you for it.

“Survival is the first order of the day.”

“Copy that,” Mitch said still whispering. “I’ll take a look round and see what we can salvage, air, some sort of cover for a habitat? Shit! It’s not going to happen, dad. There is nothing left of the habs and…”

“Doesn’t hurt to look, Mitch. Let’s just get the big picture first and then we can assess where we stand.”

“Up the creek without a paddle,” Ryan said with a grunt, as he turned over a storage locker and found a body. “Oh Lord! She didn’t stand a chance when this hab blew.”

Brett walked up and put his hand on his son’s shoulder and looked down at the face of death, death from Carbon Dioxide poisoning. “We all knew the risks.”

“Yeah, but from the planet. Not some alien killer rampage. She didn’t stand a chance.”

“It was quick. Wasn’t it?” Mitch’s voice held a slight tremble as she came up and put her gloved hand on her brother’s other shoulder.

“Yeah… it was quick,” Brett said, knowing full well from the horrific grimace on the face of Jane Barrett that it was anything but quick.

“Oh Jane,” Mitch murmured, to nobody in particular.

A distant rumble made the trio look toward the noise, left, in the distant hills now visible as dawn rapidly approached. An obviously alien craft rose, slowly at first, from just beyond the hillside. Large, shining black armour, menacing and obviously military in its deadly purpose. Quickly it gained height and with a roar, heard even through the trio’s space suits, the alien vessel shot straight up into the approaching dawn sky.

“Bye. Thanks for visiting,” Ryan said with bitterness.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

 

image of our dog Harvey

Our dog Harvey passed away on Tuesday 18th June 2019 after several illnesses. He soldiered through all that was put in his way and was of good humour right to the very end. Here’s the beginning of a series of stories I’ve written over the years all about Harvey’s adventures and mishaps.

Summer 2009

Harvey the Elephant Dog

Harvey is a character, of that there is no doubt. Of our two Springers Harvey is the one who will always get into trouble. Holly is quieter and lives for chasing the ball, but we have long suspected, from when we introduced Holly into our little family, that she was leading him astray. But notwithstanding that, there’s plenty of mischief in Harvey even without Holly leading him astray.

There are two memorable occasions where Harvey got himself into trouble all on his own. The first occasion was one mid-week mid-morning. Harvey had begun to bark, incessantly. He does that when he feels the need for attention or when he wants one of us to throw the ball for Holly. Harvey gets excited when we throw the ball for Holly. He rarely chases the ball himself; he just likes seeing Holly chase the ball.

On this particular morning Harvey was nowhere to be seen, but he could certainly be heard.

We looked high and low to locate him, fearing he may have escaped through the fence onto a neighbour’s land and be chasing something he shouldn’t be. But no, we found Harvey at the bottom of the garden. He was facing us but staring at a mound of earth. He then began barking for a couple of minutes before plunging his head into the earth mound!

Harvey’s second name is Headbanger and true to form he was showing what a lunatic he could be.

So I went for a stumble (it’s pretty rough down our ‘garden’) to see what he was doing and there he was, sat looking at the mound of earth, barking, until he plunged his head… into an ants nest. Up he came with a head full of ants, a big lolloping grin with tongue hanging out, also infested with ants and he started to bark.

He had never seen ants before, and I believe he was trying to make friends. Harvey Headbanger, indeed.

The second occasion was more worrying and involved Harvey doing a passable impression of the Elephant man.

I had been out all morning doing errands in Paphos and was on my way back home when my mobile phone rang. Always aware of safety and because I can’t see the screen while driving, I stopped the car.

“Harvey’s been bitten by something and he’s acting strange,” Chrissy said.

I could her the stress in her voice so I told her to hang on I would be there shortly.

Five minutes later I rolled up and here was Harvey, head inflated like a misshaped blimp and scratching his head and face with his paws. He was obviously in no pain, rather he seemed to be itching. Chrissy drove and I sat in the back with Harvey while poor old Holly stayed at home, on her own – something I’m sure she hated.

We got to the vets and Harvey was taken straight in. Our vets are absolutely brilliant, except when it comes to clipping the dogs!

The head vet examined Harvey and immediately said he had been stung by a scorpion. I didn’t know there were scorpions in Cyprus, let alone seen one.

By the time the vet injected Harvey with anti-venom he was giving John Hurt a run for his money in his acclaimed Elephant Man role.

Harvey has never been stung since; I think he was beginning to learn his lesson.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

Extracted form ‘A Pat on his Back’